Bears’ Matt Eberflus Breaks Silence on Departing Message to QB Justin Fields

Justin Fields Matt Eberflus

Getty Chicago Bears head coach Matt Eberflus told's Albert Breer his departing message to quarterback Justin Fields when the team traded him this offseason.

The Pittsburgh Steelers experienced a messy quarterback departure with Kenny Pickett this offseason. But that wasn’t really the situation with the Chicago Bears, head coach Matt Eberflus and quarterback Justin Fields.

Eberflus shared with Sports Illustrated’s Albert Breer that there was a lot of mutual respect between the organization and Fields this offseason. Then when the team finally dealt the quarterback to the Steelers on March 16, Eberflus delivered a cordial goodbye message to Fields.

“We thanked him for his leadership, for the work ethic and just the man that he is, how he’s always been a wonderful guy,” Eberflus said of the departing message. “I just told him, ‘Hey, I really enjoyed our relationship together the last couple years.’ I said, “That certainly doesn’t end here.’

“The relationship that he and I built over the first couple years is special and no one can ever take that away from us.”

There was a lot of coaching turnover in Chicago during Fields’ tenure with the team. But Fields played for Eberflus in two of his three Bears seasons.

Chicago traded Fields this offseason as the franchise prepared to make their first No. 1 overall pick in the NFL draft since 1947.

The Bears held the No. 1 pick in 2023 as well, but they traded back with the Carolina Panthers. The move kept Fields as the team’s starter last season.

This year, Chicago drafted USC quarterback Caleb Williams at No. 1 overall.

Bears, Matt Eberflus Did ‘Right’ by QB Justin Fields

While there was some debate nationally about whether the Bears would actually trade Fields, it seemed to be a foregone conclusion that they would eventually depart with the 2021 first-rounder this offseason.

But in the months prior to the trade, Bears general manager Ryan Poles stressed that the team “wanted to do right by Fields.”

Poles and the Bears fulfilled that promise. ESPN’s Brooke Pryor reported on March 29 that Chicago passed on a better offer for Fields to trade him to Pittsburgh.

With the trade to the Steelers, Fields landed with a 2023 playoff team that needed quarterback depth. And even if Russell Wilson starts in Pittsburgh this fall, the team has a long-term opening behind center.

Fields’ Second Chance With Pittsburgh Steelers

Fields displayed a ton of playmaking talent in three seasons with the Bears. But he made a lot of costly mistakes as well, and the team didn’t do very much winning.

During each of his three seasons, Fields averaged at least 5.3 yards per rushing attempt. He also posted at least 6.9 yards per pass.

While that’s not a great average, Pickett averaged 6.3 yards per pass in two seasons with the Steelers.

Fields also threw 40 touchdowns and ran for 14 additional scores.

The Bears, though, went 10-28 with Fields as their starter. Under Eberflus, Chicago registered an 8-20 record with Fields starting behind center.

In 40 games, Fields tossed 30 interceptions, took 135 sacks and fumbled 38 times as well.

But with the Steelers, Fields will receive a second chance under new team offensive coordinator Arthur Smith. Pittsburgh declined to pick up Fields’ fifth-year option, but The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette’s Gerry Dulac predicted in April that the team will sign Fields to a long-term extension, perhaps even before the season begins.

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